MANILA –The legal counsel of Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday filed an 82-page petition before the Supreme Court (SC) questioning the legality of her arrest.
In a press conference before the petition was filed, De Lima’s chief-of-staff, lawyer Philip Sawali, said the petition is a status quo ante order (SQAO) meant “to question the legality of the arrest order, arrest warrant and commitment order of Judge Juanita Guerrero of Branch 204 of Muntinlupa RTC (Regional Trial Court).”
Sawali said that De Lima raised three questions in her petition: (1) How Guerrero issued an arrest order immediately when there is still a pending motion to quash (2) Why the arrest order and arrest warrant did not follow procedural rules (3) How Guerrero determined probable cause when there is no allegation of crime.
In her petition, De Lima argued that Guerrero committed “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when she issued the order and the arrest warrant.” She said Guerrero’s acts violated her constitutional, legal and procedural rights.
De Lima said Guerrero also “acted with undue haste and inordinate interest” as her motion to quash, which she filed last February 20 has yet to be heard.
“Haste, when unduly applied in the context of the criminal justice system, such that it constitutes a blatant failure to respect and uphold a person’s fundamental rights, and to observe the guarantees enshrined in the Constitution to protect the rights of the accused, it results in something far more destructive, more pestilent and graver than mere imperfection,” she said in her petition.
De Lima’s motion to quash and motion of judicial determination of probable cause were filed arguing that it is the Ombudsman and eventually Sandiganbayan and not the court that has jurisdiction over her case.
The motion also argued that there is not enough evidence to prove the allegation of illegal drug trade and that the motions has to be resolved first by the court.
Despite the senator’s pending motion, Guerrero issued the arrest order against De Lima on February 23.
“There is a pending motion but she (Judge Guerrero) immediately issued the arrest order and it’s just one paragraph. No discussion about facts and law, no details on evidence or records,” Sawali said.
Padilla further said that procedurally and substantially, Guerrero had “no basis”.
De Lima’s spokesperson and lawyer Alex Padilla claimed the Department of Justice (DOJ) wanted the case to be filed at the court so that it would be a non-bailable offense.
Padilla further said the warrant did not indicate details such as what type of drugs were sold, how much they cost, who bought them among other details which the legal team found “defective”.
After the press conference, Sawali and Padilla joined supporters of De Lima in a march to the SC chanting “Free Leila”.
De Lima is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame. Her legal team says she is doing “fine” and that she has been “sleeping well.”